“The Arctic and the North Atlantic have been central to Britain’s strategic approach to the world for many decades, but especially in the Second World War and Cold War,” North Wiltshire MP James Gray told the House of Commons Defence Select Committee last week.

“In recent years, NATO seems to have turned its attention away from the Arctic and the High North in favour of the Middle East and elsewhere in the south. I just think that that is a significant strategic gap… a risk, at least, that there are threats in the Arctic that NATO and the British Government are ignoring,” he added.

Mr Gray was giving evidence to the Defence Committee at the first public session on the re-launched sub-Committee inquiry on ‘Defence in the Arctic’. The initial inquiry started last December, under Mr Gray’s chairmanship of the sub-Committee, but Parliament was dissolved before it could report.

Mr Gray, who subsequently moved up from the Defence Committee to join the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy praised the sub-Committee, for re-opening the inquiry, saying: “I am delighted that the Defence Committee has decided to take forward the Arctic inquiry. I do think that the Committee’s report has the opportunity to be quite a significant stone thrown into the pond created by melting ice.”